Posts Tagged ‘Nonhle Mbuthuma’

South Africa needs its women human rights defenders

August 23, 2019

Call to action: Former judge Yvonne Mokgoro says society must prioritise women’s rights. (Muntu Vilakazi/City Press/Gallo Images)
Call to action: Former judge Yvonne Mokgoro says society must prioritise women’s rights. (Muntu Vilakazi/City Press/Gallo Images)

Inspired by a lecture on 14 August by former judge Yvonne Mokgoro about the dire social and economic condition of women in South Africa at a women’s month event hosted by the International Commission of Jurists and the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, On 23 August 2019, three women human rights defenders in South Africa (Mateenah Hunter, a human-rights lawyer, and Shaazia Ebrahim and Tim Fish Hodgson who work for the Africa team of the International Commission of Jurists in Johannesburg) published a piece on the plight of women in South africa:

Mokgoro, South Africa’s first black female judge and a retired justice of the Constitutional Court, emphasised in her keynote address that poor, black women particularly continued to disproportionately bear the brunt of the most severe forms of poverty and inequality in South Africa. Poor black women face difficulties accessing a number of constitutionally recognised rights, including education, healthcare, land and housing. This, despite far-reaching constitutional protections of women’s rights and socioeconomic rights in South Africa’s Constitution…

Mokgoro’s moving and passionate address created an open environment in which women human-rights defenders and public-interest lawyers voiced their experiences of gendered socioeconomic rights violations in South Africa.
Mokgoro articulated the deep frustration of South African women with the government and broader society’s failure to act to curb and prevent the social, cultural and economic violence suffered by the women of South Africa. “Women constitute most of society. Why can’t we make women’s rights at the forefront? We must structure the rules to meet the needs of women,” Mokgoro said. She was moved to tears as she spoke.

Tumelo Matlwa and Amelia Rawháni-Mosalakae, lawyers at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, spoke to the all-too-common difficulties faced by women in South Africa who are married in community of property and who — because of an under-protective legal system and the disinterest of banks in their welfare — unwillingly take on their husbands’ debts. Poverty, they concluded, “is a form of economic violence that has a disproportionate effect on women”.

Fatima Shabodien, feminist activist and strategy director at the Raith Foundation, spoke directly to the sexual harassment crisis in the nongovernmental organisation (NGO) sector in South Africa, which has received extensive media coverage, and about the responses of a number of organisations to allegations of sexual harassment. …She urged human rights defenders, public interest lawyers, boards of NGOs and donors to demand that allegations of sexual harassment are dealt with expeditiously and effectively and that there are real and lasting consequences for perpetrators.

This was brought into sharp relief by Nonhle Mbuthuma, a community land rights activist and member of the Amadiba Crisis Committee. It is primarily women, Mbuthuma indicated, who are risking their lives and wellbeing by signing affidavits to go to court to fight against the use of their land for mining in the name of economic development. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/11/25/the-human-rights-defenders-in-ais-2018-write-for-rights-campaign/]

Mokgoro’s intervention was aimed at encouraging lawyers, judges and government officials to reverse this practice that often renders women invisible, thus limiting the transformative potential of the Constitution in their lives. Mokgoro called for an “engendering” of socioeconomic rights towards the social and economic liberation of women from the feminisation of poverty, citing Professor Sandra Fredman.

As young human-rights defenders, we are inspired by Mokgoro’s life, love, learning and labour through which she continues to contribute to the creation of a nonsexist society in which the oppressive effects of patriarchy are eliminated. We take this opportunity, in “Women’s Month”, to remember all those women, who, like Mokgoro, have struggled against the odds to bring us to this point.

  • The many women who risked their lives fighting apartheid and colonialism, including the thousands of women who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956, demanding that the apartheid government withdraw pass laws.
  • The women who fought to secure a seat at the table during our constitutional negotiations despite their initial marginalisation and ensured that women’s rights are now afforded significant constitutional protection;
  • The women who continue to campaign tirelessly for women’s reproductive rights and against gender-based violence.
  • The women public interest lawyers who bring women’s socioeconomic rights cases to our courts.
  • The women in grassroots social movements around the country who continue to claim their constitutional rights and insist that they are written into the story of our constitutional rights jurisprudence.
  • The women in homes around the country giving their love and labour on a daily basis to ensure that care work that is so crucial to our families and communities is undertaken.
  • The women in townships, urban centres and rural areas around the country who work as domestic workers, community health workers, informal traders and farm workers and many other precarious jobs; who sacrifice spending time with their own families to provide them with the basic necessities of life in the absence of sufficient support from the state.
  • The women of Marikana, who are still fighting for simple justice for their murdered husbands and partners and their decimated families, seven years after the Marikana massacre.

………

As Toni Morrison said: “If there’s a [story] that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Mokgoro has reminded us that the story of the constitutional realisation of women’s socioeconomic rights has yet to be fully written. And she has inspired us to continue — alongside the many women activists currently doing so —to write it.

https://mg.co.za/article/2019-08-23-00-sas-women-are-fighting-for-social-justice-remarkable-women

The human rights defenders in AI’s 2018 Write For Rights Campaign

November 25, 2018

Finalists for the 2017 Front Line Defenders Award come from Ukraine, Nicaragua, Vietnam, South Africa and Kuwait

March 31, 2017

The Jury has selected human rights defenders from Ukraine, Nicaragua, Vietnam, South Africa and Kuwait as finalists for the 2017 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk:

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Emil Kurbedinov, Crimea/Ukraine

Emil Kurbedinov is a Crimean Tatar and human rights lawyer. Since the occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, Emil has been defending the persecuted Crimean Tatar minority, civil society activists and journalists. He also provides emergency response and documentation of rights violations during raids and searches of activists’ homes. In January 2017, masked representatives from Crimea’s Centre for Counteracting Extremism detained Emil and took him to a local directorate of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) for interrogation. A district court found him guilty of “propagandizing for extremist organisations” and sentenced him to ten days in detention.

Pham Thanh Nghien

Pham Thanh Nghien, Vietnam

Vietnamese blogger Pham Thanh Nghien spent four years in prison for her work publicising violations against and defending the rights of relatives of fishermen killed by Chinese patrols. Following her release, she was kept under house arrest, during which time she spearheaded numerous human rights campaigns and co-founded the renowned Vietnamese Bloggers’ Network. Nghien has had her home raided, been blocked from attending medical appointments, had a padlock placed on her door from the outside, and been refused a marriage certificate. Nghien has also survived numerous physical assaults aimed at stopping her powerful, peaceful work uncovering and publicising human rights violations in Vietnam.

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Nonhle Mbuthuma, South Africa

Nonhle Mbuthuma has persisted in her struggle for land and environmental rights in South Africa’s Eastern Cape despite assassination attempts, ongoing death threats and the murder of her colleague. She is a founder and current member of the Executive Committee of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, formed to unite community members in five villages of the Amadiba Tribal Authority region opposing destructive mining projects. In July 2016, Nonhle and other activists successfully forced the biggest shareholder in a titanium mining project to withdraw, but threats to activists continue as the community now fears the project will continue with funding from local “front” companies.

Abdulhakim Al-Fadhli

Abdulhakim Al Fadhli, Kuwait

Abdulhakim Al Fadhli is currently imprisoned for his peaceful activism on behalf of Kuwait‘s stateless Bedoon and other minority communities in Kuwait. The term Bedoon, meaning “without” in Arabic, refers to the community of stateless persons, native to Kuwait, who are prohibited from obtaining any official state documents including, but not limited to, birth, death and marriage certificates. Abdulhakim is currently serving a one-year prison sentence and faces deportation upon release. Throughout his imprisonment, he has protested and staged hunger strikes against the inhumane and unsanitary conditions in the Anbar 4 prison facility, where he has also been subjected to solitary confinement. [see also https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/02/27/car-chase-in-kuwait-bedoun-human-rights-defender-the-target/]

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Francisca Ramírez Torres, Nicaragua

Human rights defender Francisca Ramírez Torres‘ children were attacked in attempt to stop her powerful work advocating against a destructive inter-oceanic canal in Nicaragua. Francisca is the coordinator of the Council for the Defence of Land, Lake and Sovereignty, which educates communities on their rights, campaigns for the repeal of laws allowing land-grabbing. The proposed canal would displace thousands of small farmers and indigenous peoples, without respecting their right to free, prior and informed consent. Francisca has been detained, harassed, and had her home and family attacked for her peaceful resistance to this destructive canal project.

The annual Front Line Defenders Award seeks to focus international attention on the human rights defender’s work, thus contributing to the recipient’s personal security, and a cash prize of €15,000 is awarded to the Award recipient and his/her organisation in an effort to support the continuation of this important work.

Source: 2017 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk | Front Line Defenders